Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Sick About Being Sick

I don't like to shake hands. Not because I'm snooty, though I admit I can be. Because of all those nasty freaking germs out there. Like tampons, handkerchiefs, and mascara, some things should not be shared. I'm uncomfortable touching other people's hands, especially strangers. Think about it. Do you know where that hand has been? What's worse is when you do know and someone juts out her manicured hand in a gesture to make corporate niceness. No thank you.

I'm talking to you, Roxanne! I know you don't wash your hands after you go to the bathroom, even though you're dressed to the nines, fooling your minions into thinking you are a maven of cleanliness and perfection. Even my boys know better, and they scrub extra hard after a few good plops in the potty. You, Roxanne, are a germ infester. And I know you don't give a rat's ass about sick days, considering you once sent a CAB to your 10-year old daughter's school to pick her up when the nurse called you at work saying your child had a fever. You were the boss, the head honcho, the big cheese, and you kept on working, even though telecommuting and working from home were acceptable and even encouraged at the time.

And by the way, you were still at your desk when I left at 6:00 that day.

Germs make us sick, and I don't want to get sick. I work for myself and don't have the luxury of paid sick days. On those days that mucus flows like Niagara Falls, I simply work in my bubble and stay away from clients. I do have the luxury to be productive in my own wee little world. I was struck to learn that about half of all private sector workers don't get paid sick days either. Are you as incredulous as I am? Did you naturally assume you have paid sick days? Better rifle through that new employee handbook that HR handed you on day one with the soggy sandwich in orientation.

Raise your hand if your kid has been in daycare/preschool/school/gynmastics with another kid who has clear case of the runs or a runny nose?

Raise the other hand if you have ever pumped up your kid with Tylenol/Motrin/Benadryl to mask a minor ailment because you couldn't afford to take time off from work?

Now how does it feel to be sitting at the coffee shop/your desk/library/McDonald's (yes, they have free wireless!) with your arms up in the air?

Seriously, those parents, most of 'em anyway, aren't to be blamed. The finger pointing goes beyond the mom and dad just trying to get by (especially these days!). The fault lies with the system. If bosses like Roxanne don't value paid sick time, who will? Clearly the people in the C-Suite have the pull, and they're pulling in the wrong direction. That leaves us parents being pulled in all directions.

As a culture, it's no secret that we value productivity more than people. It is a utilitarian (not to be confused with Unitarian) society indeed. I could even make the leap to call our philosophy Darwinism, but some folks out there don't want to hear all that crazy talk. Just take a look at the state of our healthcare, maternity and paternity leave, heart disease rates, and poverty levels. For a first class developed nation, we pretty much suck at the things that make, and keep, our citizens happy and healthy. Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Does that ring a bell? All that productivity is literally killing us, but hey, those fine folks at Halliburton and their ilk are making a killing. Our culture, policies, politics, and philosophy must change.

If you think it's tough to juggle work and family when you're sick, just wait til you add ailing parents to the equation. Now that's some murky territory that you definitely don't want to be treading in. It takes a village, my ass.

THE MAN, you know, the one we all work for, is a bastard. Make that with a capital B.

Click here to tell THE MAN what you think. The hard work is already done, thanks to the fine moms at Moms Rising.
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Anonymous said...

Hi Monk,
Hope you are ok.I am thinking of you all the time.I pay to dadamoni for you.Lots of love to Saheb,Einstein and Todd

Anonymous said...

Made a typing mistakes. I pray to dadamoni for you.

A Crafty Mom said...

Very interesting. Things are slightly different here in Canada, but not entirely all that much better. We have more socialized healthcare, yes, and there are benefits to that, yes, but many drawbacks too. Not for me personally, b/c I am fortunate to have a healthy family, but if you have a sick child or any serious health issues, you are pretty much screwed around here. Maternity leave is a bonus, I don't know what I'd have done without my one year paid leave.

Following US politics is very interesting to me, however, b/c there really do exist a number of stark differences between the two nations.

Ilina said...


One year paid maternity leave?! Wow, the US could learn from that alone. Good for you to have that time with your babies!

Anonymous said...

I just wrote a check for $1800 and change to pay for my hand surgery AND WE HAVE HEALTH INSURANCE! Not to mention that I had to take one week off of work, only 2 days of which were "covered". We are all one balance beam and a ball pit away from the poor house. It is truly scary.

Anonymous said...

You're totally in my head.

Just today I was thinking, "WTH, does EVERYONE in the world today need to shake my hand?!?"

I HATE shaking hands. I never offer mine. It totally comes across as rude or lacking in social grace I'm sure, but I don't care.

I'm Howard Hughes.

No. Seriously.

Angel said...

I don't think I like Roxanne.